Monday, 11 March 2013

Miso Menavelins


'Minavelins' was one of my mother's words, a nautical term for the clutter in the corners of a ship's tack room that she took to mean 'leftovers'. Liverpudlians are nautical folk and both my grandfathers went to sea. And frugality was a virtue. The emblematic Liverpudlian stew, Scouse, is usually made from scrag end of lamb, whereas 'Lobscouse', my mother told me, is so-called when you lob whatever you can find into the pot. Webster's has three different explanations of the etymology, but I think you'll find that my mother was correct. She was always right. And in our house, stewed leftovers was 'Minavelins'.

It's still really cold and I have been cocooning in my kitchen, where the griddle on my stove top is permanently on instead of the central heating and a pan of heartiness is usually warming. It's been beany.

This pot of minavelins started with cooked cabbage, Brussels sprouts and griddled chicory left over from Sunday lunch, plus half a bowl of mashed potato. I also happened to have some butter beans that I'd soaked and skinned for another, forgotten purpose. So those went in as well.

I started, as ever, by sweating diced onion, carrot & celery; spicing with cumin & coriander, plus a few cloves of roasted garlic; then adding the butter beans, covering them with a litre of stock and simmering for ten minutes until they started to soften before adding the chopped leftover veggies. I wanted to finish the stew with miso, but didn't have any in and it was actually snowing today, so I didn't want to walk too far. So I went to Baldwins.

I'd run into Kevin, who works there, the other day and was saying, the reason we'd not met since the Bad Thing happened to me is that I can't afford to shop in Baldwins. He protested that they only charge the RRP but, as an independent business, they don't have the purchasing power to negotiate significant wholesale discounts. I was, like, whatever. Fare Shares is way cheaper, I find. But Fare Shares wasn't open and it was farking freezing. So I went to Baldwins and paid £5.59 for a packet of Clearspring brown rice miso.

At the checkout, I told Kevin about nearly falling for an online sales scam that would've bound me in to an agreement to keep buying an expensive mineral supplement that was basically seaweed. Google told me that the product was actually pretty decent, but the sales tactics were not. Kevin suggested I try the Clearspring sea salad, a 'ready-to-eat blend of three North Atlantic sea vegetables', so I did, for £4.79. That slickster sold me more than a tenner's worth of organic Japanese foodstuffs! And that's why its best not to visit Baldwins, if you are poor:-(

Back in my toasty kitchen, I thickened the stew with the leftover mashed potato, served myself a portion and stirred in a nubbin of the miso. You do not want to cook live miso, or you kill its goodness and waste the premium you've paid for it. The sea salad sprinkle that Kevin suggested proved the perfect garnish.
Like I told him at the till, living well is the best revenge.

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